Michael Kors is latest designer to spark controversy with 'Afriluxe' fashion shoot
When Donna Karan's Haiti-shot campaign sparked controversy last month for using two seemingly poverty-stricken black teenagers simply to set the scene, Michael Kors must have considered scrapping some of the spring 2012 promotional photographs they had already shot.
Given the similarities in staging to the Donna Karan campaign – both use black people as 'extras' in the photographs – Michael Kors must have anticipated a negative reaction.
Despite that, the firm appear to have made the decision to leave the images unaltered.
Racist OR insensitive Promotional material for Michael Kors' latest
collection shows two white people on a very stylish safari, while a
black guide almost merges into the background
The images that accompany the U.S. designer's Afriluxe collection include a picture that shows two white people
apparently on a very stylish safari, while a black guide almost merges
into the background.
Yet again a campaign has used dark-skinned people simply to set the scene.
It is possible that Kors considered their campaign to be less controversial, given that they dressed the black guide in designer clothes from the collection.
Both adverts could be considered insensitive, but are they racist After all, worse offences have been committed in the name of fashion.
Vogue Italia famously promoted a new craze of 'slave earrings' which they claimed recalled the style of earrings worn by 'women of colour.'
Racist AND insensitive Donna Karan's Haiti campaign has been criticised for using two black teenagers as props, and for promoting expensive clothes in one of the world's poorest countries
Writing on fashionista.com, Dhani Mau
pointed out the fact that the safari guide in Kors' picture 'happens to
be the only black person in the ad might be a point of contention, or
it may simply be seen as realistic'.
Others took a harder line.
on the picture on Facebook, Adi Pa wrote: 'It's not the first time, nor
the last, that the fashion industry produces images with imperialistic
Nessie Benjamin added: 'Colonialistic, imperialistic and a statement of the continuing mindset of black vs white. So what else is new'
The campaign is certainly not as divisive as Donna Karan's, which starred Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima – Brazilian, yes, but very much white Brazilian – and was shot by Russell James.
That campaign also provoked criticism for advertising items of clothing that cost thousands of pounds in one of the world's poorest countries.
But something positive could come from both shoots.
Perhaps reactions to both the photos will persuade the fashion industry to finally move on from using imperialism as inspiration.